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Get ready to broaden your perspective, leaders.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, one of the world’s leading business thinkers and change-makers and recent recipient of the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award, believes the greatest future breakthroughs – the ones that will tackle the most complex, messy and recalcitrant social and environmental problems of our time – will come from those who think, and act, outside the building.

“Leaders say that they want more innovation. But then they trap themselves and their associates inside the structures that keep them stuck – inside the building, so to speak, where ideas get stale fast,” writes the Harvard Business School professor in a recent Wall Street Journal “Experts” column. “That’s dangerous in a world of disruption and change.”

But Kanter’s message at the heart of her captivating and highly anticipated new book, “Think Outside the Building: How Advanced Leaders Can Change the World One Smart Innovation at a Time” (PublicAffairs, January 2020), is positive and bold. Drawing from her 10+ years of breakthrough work directing Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Institute, a program that has helped more than 500 experienced CEOs and aspiring entrepreneurs alike reach well beyond their comfort zones and areas of expertise, and use their capabilities, connections and cash (not necessarily their own) to create cross-sector coalitions that are taking on global crises, from climate change to gun safety, inequality to racial issues.


But it’s not only their desire and means to passionately pursue social change that unite these purpose-driven leaders from diverse backgrounds; it’s their willingness to really listen and “let in some fresh air.” This, says Kanter, is what gives them “the essentials for innovation: broader perspectives, a chance to sniff trends, a set of direct experiences that jar them into seeing new possibilities.” This – the ability to think outside the building, to overcome establishment paralysis and produce significant advances for a better world – is the leadership paradigm of the future and a blueprint for a new generation of organizational change-makers.

Leaders and managers hoping to make an impact within their organizations, to create products and processes that improve business and deliver better experiences, have much to learn from Kanter’s approach to innovation, too.

Kanter’s insight into advanced leadership is an important and original contribution, one that transcends conventional practice. And now, through her latest ambitious book, she shows how people everywhere have it in them to not only wish they can change the world, but to actually make it happen.


“Striking…This realistic and hopeful manual shows how accomplished individuals can tackle problems whose victims often lack resources to take action.”

— Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Stimulating…Buoyed by strong writing and an encouraging tone, Kanter’s thorough and thought-provoking guide will be a boon for veteran leaders who want to put their well-tested skills to new-and socially constructive-use.”

— Publishers Weekly

“Kanter’s book lays out the next big step in innovation: the bold leadership to imagine new solutions to big problems of communities and the world.  Her brilliant new book is a compelling read, full of fascinating stories and breakthrough ideas.”

— Indra Nooyi, former chairman and CEO of Pepsico

Click here to learn more about Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. She is available for speaking engagements and advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Leaders, It’s Time to Think Outside the Building was last modified: July 6th, 2022 by Stern Strategy Group